BY DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
The Winnipeg Wesmen are likely hoping they got that one out of their system.
The Wesmen struggled against a winless, albeit fiery, UBC-Okanagan squad Saturday night and squeaked out a 69-61 victory over the Heat to close out the Canada West season.
The Wesmen finished the season 14-6 and, through the Canada West's RPI seeding system, will host the UNBC Timberwolves in a one-game first-round playoff match-up Thursday at Duckworth Centre. The Wesmen finish as the 6-seed, while the Timberwolves, 9-11 in conference play, will come in as the 11-seed.
Winnipeg did not make it easy Saturday night, which served as Senior Night for fifth-year guard Antoinette Miller and fifth-year post Skylar Boulanger. UBCO didn't make it easy, either, causing 19 Wesmen turnovers and forcing Miller into her worst shooting night of the season, a 4-for-22 effort.
Miller still finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Faith Hezekiah added 19 points and 11 rebounds, her 13th double-double of the season.
Boulanger finished with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.
VIDEO: Skylar Boulanger after her final league game
"I'm sad, but also I'm happy because I made so many relationships on my team over the five years," Boulanger said. "It went by so fast, but I'm happy too that I got to experience five years. Not many people make it that far and I'm just proud. I'm really proud."
Boulanger had family in attendance, including of course her sister Robyn, a freshman guard who came off the bench for 19 points, a conference-play high for her and four points off her career high.
The Wesmen weren't able to shake the Heat, who got a three-pointer from Vanessa Botteselle with 12 seconds left to go in the second quarter to send the game into halftime tied 37-37.
The Heat hung around well into the fourth, pulling to 51-50 down on a Shenelle Tamminen three 1:05 into the final frame. Tamminen would finish with a season-high 19 points, including 5-for-10 from three.
Even an ensuing 7-0 Winnipeg run wasn't enough to derail UBCO, which cut that eight-point deficit to 60-58 on an Emma Johnson jumper with 2:42 to go.
"It was their last game, they have two fifth-years too. They probably wanted to go out with a bang," Skylar Boulanger said of the Heat's impressive performance. "And they did. Good for them. But we came out and won and it's a good feeling to end my league five years with a win."